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Shadow Strategies on Display in Popular Holiday Movies

(In Alyce's opinion, as mentioned on her Home for the Holidays CD.

A Christmas Carol — 1951 version starring Alastair Sim
A Christmas Carol — 1984 TV version starring George C. Scott
The Bishop's Wife
A Charlie Brown Christmas
Holiday Inn
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (animated)
It's a Wonderful Life
Miracle on 34th Street — 1947 version starring Edmund Gwenn
The Night They Saved Christmas
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (animated)
Santa Claus Is Coming to Town (animated)
White Christmas
   

A Christmas Carol — 1951 version starring Alastair Sim

Ebenezer Scrooge (played by Alastair Sim)
Alastair Sim's brilliant performance of Scrooge (in my opinion, still the best performance of Scrooge on film) is the embodiment of several shadows, most notably the Apathetic in his refusal to care about others, such as when he refuses to go to the dying Marley's side before his office's usual closing time, and when he shows no compassion to the man who owes him money. We see him flip into the Apathetic's opposite, the Zealot, in being so perfectly cheap, so completely devoted to a fanatical miserdom, that he won't pay half a penny to have some extra bread with dinner. He also runs the Predator strategy when he and Marley take advantage of the situation to seize a company and when he seizes Marley's property upon the latter's death.

Bob Cratchit (played by Mervyn Johns)
Of the Bob Cratchits I've seen, I think Mervyn Johns' performance is the best (and most lovable) example of Cratchit's most notable shadow, what I call the Shrinking Violet, or deflated Sovereign. Cratchit is an Enneagram Two, a person with a big heart who helps others and finds it hard to ask for what he himself needs. (Two Enneagram Twos I can think of in public life right now: Joe Biden and former Chicago mayor Richie Daley. A Two acts from their heart more than from their head, which is why they sometimes get into trouble with public comments.) I think we can assume that Mr. Marley wasn't much nicer to work for than Scrooge was, so Cratchit's sadness upon hearing news of Marley's impending death shows what a big heart he has.

Mrs. Cratchit (played by Hermione Baddeley)
Mrs. Cratchit shows the Predator shadow, though in a light-hearted way, when she wants to play a practical joke on her husband by telling their daughter Martha to hide when Bob comes home. Practical jokes, teasing, trick-or-treat, are all displays of Predator energy.

Jacob Marley (played by Michael Hordern)
Marley as a ghost is overcome with remorse who repeatedly screams with agony. If his plight were less awful, I would say Marley was displaying the Overwrought shadow, but an overflow of grief and horror is not a shadow, it is the heart's true reaction to a terrible life situation.

Young Scrooge (played by George Cole)
As a young man, Scrooge displays the Predator shadow when he seizes Fezziwig's business and cuts the employees' salaries and then flips into the opposite, the Prey, when he's too stricken with guilt to say hello to Mr. Fezziwig.

Fan Scrooge (played by Carol Marsh)
When Ebenezer's sister Fan arrives to pick up young Scrooge from school, she tells him, "You must forgive father . . .", encouraging Scrooge to keep his feelings to himself (Stoic). I've come to believe that what people call "forgiveness" doesn't work if it simply stuffs anger, nor is it the right thing to do. Anger, like every other emotion, is an invitation to change something that isn't right, in anger's case to set a boundary that's missing or has been violated.

 

A Christmas Carol — 1984 TV version starring George C. Scott

Ebenezer Scrooge (played by George C. Scott)
Scott's Scrooge has a much more sarcastic tone than that of Alastair Sim, and shows much more resistance to change (Diehard). He takes offense easily at the things told him by the spirits who visit him (Hothead).

Jacob Marley's Ghost (played by Frank Finlay)
Finlay is my favorite Marley's ghost and is so overcome with emotion that he is sometimes unable to do anything but scream with frustration (Overwrought).

Ghost of Christmas Past (played by Angela Pleasance)
Roger Hirson's teleplay gives this spirit a confrontational style (Hothead) and a mocking attitude (Predator).

Bob Cratchit (played by David Warner)
Perhaps because he's more accustomed to playing villains, David Warner plays Bob Cratchit more as Pushover than as Shrinking Violet. What's more striking, however, is the Stoic shadow in Bob and the entire Cratchit family, in which none of them is allowed to grieve for Tiny Tim for more than a second before hearing "put it away" from other family members.

Mrs. Cratchit (played by Susannah York)
Mrs. Cratchit is the head of the Stoic patrol, who not only tells her family to stop grieving (Stoic) but uses Tiny Tim's death to give her surviving children a lecture about never asking for too much or thinking too well of themselves (Shrinking Violet) or disagreeing with each other (Pushover). For me, that moment spoils York's performance (though I realize it was the fault of the writer and not the actress) particularly since in the process Mrs. Cratchit wounds her children with what in Shadow Work® we call the Tombstone wound.

 

The Bishop's Wife — original version starring Loretta Young, Cary Grant, and David Niven

Bishop Henry Brougham (played by David Niven)
Henry is obsessed with building a cathedral, exhibiting the Zealot shadow in sacrificing his closeness with his wife and daughter to a Zealot's cause.

Dudley (played by Cary Grant)
Although he's an angel, Dudley isn't above using the Predator strategy to help him trick Henry into realizing that his plans for the cathedral are ruining his family life, for example, when he makes Henry's pants stick to his chair at Mrs. Hamilton's.

Julia Brougham (played by Loretta Young)
Julia tries to show Henry how obsessed he is, and when he launches into his promotional shtick, she decides not to fight back and gives up (the Pushover shadow).

Professor Wutheridge (played by Monty Woolley)
The Professor has no religious faith (Apathetic) and is seriously "stuck" in his efforts to write a book (Diehard) until Dudley performs a miracle.

Mrs. Hamilton (played by Gladys Cooper)
Mrs. Hamilton uses money to get the cathedral built her way (Bully) mostly out of guilt for having married her husband without loving him (Diehard). She reveals to Dudley that years earlier she abandoned her one true love, Alan Cartwright, out of fear of poverty (Prey).

 

Miracle on 34th Street — 1947 version starring Edmund Gwenn, Maureen O'Hara, John Payne and Natalie Wood

Doris Walker (played by Maureen O'Hara)
As the film begins, Doris is entrenched in the Apathetic strategy of believing in nothing and viewing all belief with cynicism. Being phony is part of the Grandstander strategy, and both Fred and Doris express what is clearly a phony belief that Kris is Santa Claus, considering how disbelieving they are at the film's end that Kris' cane is sitting in the house for sale.

Susan Walker (played by Natalie Wood)
Susan is imitating her mother's Apathetic strategy by not believing in anything, but she gradually wants to believe, though she finds it hard to do ("It's silly, but I believe" — Shrinking Violet).

Fred Gailey (played by John Payne)
Fred uses the Predator strategy when he brings Susan to see Santa Claus at Macy's, hoping he can manipulate her into believing. He uses the same strategy when he invites Kris to stay with him so that the two of them together can influence Doris and Susan. Being phony is part of the Grandstander strategy, and both Fred and Doris express what is clearly a phony belief that Kris is Santa Claus, considering how disbelieving they are at the film's end that Kris' cane is sitting in the house for sale.

Kris Kringle (played by Edmund Gwenn)
In the film's first scene, Kris tells a man decorating a store window that he's doing the reindeer wrong, insisting that their positions and antlers be correct even though it won't matter to anyone but himself (Dogmatic). He hits Mr. Sawyer on the head with his cane (Bully) rather than simply reporting him to Mr. Macy. He intentionally fails the sanity test at Bellevue (Prey) believing that Doris was part of Sawyer's conspiracy to have him committed.

Judge Henry Harper (played by Gene Lockhart)
Judge Harper weasels out of doing what he believes is the right thing in order to get reelected (Predator).

Mr. Sawyer (played by Porter Hall)
Mr. Sawyer, the film's clear "bad guy," runs a lot of Predator: he manipulates young Alfred into believing he's sick for wanting to play Santa Claus to children at the Y; he concocts a deceptive plot to get Kris to Bellevue Hospital; and does so to prevent Mr. Macy from finding out how he's preying on Alfred.

Charlie Halloran, the Judge's campaign manager (played by William Frawley)
Charlie wants Judge Harper is a cynic who cares nothing about duty so long as the Judge can get reelected (Apathetic).

District Attorney Thomas Mara (played by Jerome Cowan)
Mara concedes the legal existence of Santa Claus in order to avoid conflict with his young son (Pushover).

Mr. Shellhammer (played by Philip Tonge)
Mr. Shellhammer tells Kris to persuade children to want toys on which the store is overstocked (Predator) and gets his wife drunk in order to get her permission for Kris Kringle to stay in their home (Predator).

Alfred (played by Alvin Greenman)
Alfred offers himself willingly to Mr. Sawyer for psychological dissection (Prey).

 

It's a Wonderful Life

George Bailey (played by Jimmy Stewart)
Most of the film focuses on the character of George Bailey, so it's naturally his shadows that are most apparent, even though he's a guy most of us would like to know. George suffers badly from the Shrinking Violet shadow, struggling the whole film to do what he wants to do instead of what others ask of him. So it's appropriate that the movie's ending is about unconditional love, which is what heals the Shrinking Violet shadow. When George is in trouble, people spread out all over town asking for money. As Uncle Billy says, "They didn't ask any questions, just said, 'George is in trouble.'" American culture has a lot of money shadows, and one of the biggest is that we're not supposed to ask for money without explaining ourselves in full, and in this film people give generously to George without question in gratitude for the ways he's helped them in the past.
    The opposite of the Shrinking Violet is the Grandstander, and there are several times in the film when George plays the romantic dreamer, as when he promises Mary the moon and keeps talking instead of kissing her. His dreamer side also tells Zuzu that if she goes to sleep, the flower she brought home from school will become a whole garden.
    George also uses the Zealot strategy to sacrifice his honeymoon funds, not to mention his social life and prospects for wealth, to the cause of the Building & Loan. He flips into the Apathetic or Cynic when he prays for help and gets punched in the mouth, and concludes that's what you get for praying (rather than concluding, for example) that the two incidents bear no relation to each other.     As a boy, George teases his brother Harry for being a "scarebaby" (Predator) and calls young Mary Hatch "brainless" for not liking coconut on her ice cream (Dogmatic). He often finds it hard to tell Mary how he feels and, when he arrives at their honeymoon suite, Ernie Bishop has to push him in Mary's direction (Stoic). When he finds out the $8000 is missing, he doesn't pull Mary aside and confide in her about what's happened or share what he's feeling (Stoic). Instead, he flips into Overwrought and destroys the Christmas decorations in a fit of anger.
    One of the harder shadows to see in this very likable character is the Prey, the shadow of being overly trusting and thereby allowing a Predator an opportunity to strike. George's Uncle Billy is so forgetful that he forgets to attend George and Mary's wedding, yet George, as the head of the Building & Loan, gives him the job of taking an $8000 deposit to the bank (worth something like $120,000 in today's money). We saw George playing the Prey's opposite, the Predator, as a child teasing people. Another unlikable shadow in George is the Victim, willing to take the blame for what isn't his fault when he decides he'll go to jail rather than let Uncle Billy go, despite the fact that he has a wife and children to support. He flips into the Bully on the phone with Zuzu's teacher, blaming her for Zuzu's illness.

Mary Bailey (played by Donna Reed)
According to the narration, during the War, Mary is head of Bedford Falls' USO despite having four children and a husband and house to look after, which suggests a supermom-like Zealot shadow in which she sacrifices some of her needs for rest in service of an idealized goal.

Mr. Potter (played by Lionel Barrymore)
Mr. Potter tries to trick George into betraying the Building & Loan by offering him a high-paying job and hides from George the truth that Uncle Billy left the $8000 in his lap (Predator). Though his tone is often bullying, he most noticeably plays the Bully when he calls the police to get George arrested.

Uncle Billy Bailey (played by Thomas Mitchell)
Uncle Billy is so unfocused and forgetful that he lays $8000 in Mr. Potter's lap and fails to notice or remember doing so (Scattered).

Violet Bick (played by Gloria Grahame)
Violet tells a group of men, "Stick around, fellas, just in case," as she goes after George Bailey (Wanton).

Mr. Gower (played by H. B. Warner)
Mr. Gower almost poisons a child accidentally while overwhelmed with grief over his son's death. We don't know if Bedford Falls had another pharmacy to whom Gower might have referred the prescription. If there was and Gower didn't ask for help, he's running the Shrinking Violet shadow for not asking for help. When Gower starts hitting George, he plays the Bully.

Sam Wainwright (played by Frank Albertson)
Over the phone Sam teases George about stealing his girl, Mary, although Sam has another woman with him at the time. Sam does a lot of teasing (Predator) and most likely played the Mascot role in his family of origin ("Hee haw!").

Mary's mother, Mrs. Hatch
Mrs. Hatch hopes to influence Mary to marry Sam Wainwright and listens in on Mary's phone conversation with Sam using the extension (Predator).

The two boys who unlock the gym floor
Two boys play a prank on George Bailey by opening the floor of the high school gym to reveal the pool beneath (Predator).

 

Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer (animated)

Yukon Cornelius
Yukon Cornelius is a fun example of the Grandstander shadow, very full of himself and his outsized dreams of striking it rich. "I'm Yukon Cornelius, the greatest prospector in the north! This is my land . . ."

Rudolph
Rudolph is the archetypal misfit, a Stoic who expresses none of his feelings, and who falls for the erroneous notion that it's inappropriate for him to have a red nose (Prey).

Hermie the elf
Hermie suffers mostly from the Stoic shadow, believing he's a "misfit" because he's been told it's inappropriate for him to want to be a dentist.

Santa
Upon first meeting the baby Rudolph, Santa says that the reindeer who pull his sleigh can't have red glowing noses (Dogmatic).

The reindeer coach
The coach organizes the other young reindeer to exclude Rudolph from their games (Bully).

Donner the reindeer
Donner tells the female reindeer that "This is man's work" (Dogmatic).

 

A Charlie Brown Christmas (animated)

Charlie Brown
Charlie Brown suffers from low self-esteem when he gets no Christmas cards ("I know nobody likes me" — Shrinking Violet) but flips easily into Grandstander when Lucy invites him to be the director of the school play. "I know I should be happy, but I'm not" (Stoic).

Lucy
Lucy will play the Christmas Queen even though no one's ever heard of it, and thinks she's "real in" (Grandstander). She refuses to eat December snowflakes, preferring to wait until January, and tells Schroeder that Beethoven couldn't be so great because his picture never appeared on bubblegum cards (Dogmatic). She becomes hysterical when Snoopy kisses her (Overwrought) and takes offense when Charlie Brown doesn't immediately agree that she's beautiful ("I know when I've been insulted" — Hothead).

Schroeder
Schroeder takes criticism of Beethoven personally ("What do you mean, Beethoven wasn't so great?!") and insists on playing jazz for the Christmas play even after director Charlie Brown asks him to play something more traditional (Hothead).

Shermie
Shermie complains about always playing a shepherd (Victim).

Snoopy
Snoopy tosses Charlie Brown and Linus around using Linus' blanket and throws them into a snow bank (Bully). He mocks Lucy and ridicules Charlie Brown along with everyone else (Predator). He shows off with his food bowl and competes for a big money prize with a tasteless display of Christmas decorations (Grandstander).

Sally Brown
Charlie Brown's little sister Sally sees no meaning in Christmas beyond getting as many gifts as she can and wants to ask Santa for "tens and twenties" (Apathetic).

Frieda
Like Lila in Holiday Inn, Frieda has the vanity of the Grandstander ("It's spoiling my naturally curly hair!").

Pigpen
Pigpen insists on getting respect ("On the contrary, I didn't think I looked that good" — Hothead).

Violet and Patty
The girls are stereotypical "mean girls," hypercritical of Charlie Brown (Predator). "He's not the kind you can count on to do anything right" (Dogmatic).

 

Santa Claus Is Coming to Town (animated)

Kris Kringle (voice by Mickey Rooney)
The lyrics to the title song tell children that Santa is watching them, so they'd better "watch out" (Predator) and that they'd better be Stoic ("better not cry, better not pout"). The lyrics also tell children to be good "for goodness' sake," meaning they shouldn't be good only in order to get presents but because they want to, which means, "You should want to be good, and if you don't want to be good, you're bad" (Dogmatic).

Burgermeister Meisterburger
After slipping on a roller skate, the Burgermeister Meisterburger blames toys for what happened to him, rather than taking responsibility for his own actions (Victim) and outlaws all toys (Bully).

The Winter Warlock
The Warlock plays the Predator, trapping and torturing those who cross his mountain ("I really am a mean, despicable person, you know") until Kris melts his heart with a gift.

 

The Night They Saved Christmas

Claudia Baldwin (played by Jaclyn Smith)
Like Linda in Holiday Inn, Claudia displays traits that are out of character for her because it's convenient for the screenwriter. She laughs along with Michael and the other two children at the dinner table about Santa Claus not existing, then tells the oldest child not to spill the beans to the youngest.

Michael Baldwin (played by Paul Le Mat)
Michael is obsessed with striking oil and sacrifices his relationships with his wife and youngest son (Zealot). He plays Pushover to Mr. Murdock, showing no anger for fear he'll get fired even when Murdock threatens to call off the search for Claudia and the children.

Santa Claus (played by Art Carney)
Santa knows intimate details about the children of the world but somehow misses the fact that most people think he doesn't exist (Scattered).

Sumner Murdock (played by Mason Adams)
Mr. Murdock grumpily orders people around and keeps threatening to fire Michael if he doesn't strike oil (Bully). He also plays the Apathetic who doesn't care enough about the lives of Claudia and the children to continue the fund the search for them in the ice fog.

 

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (animated)

The Grinch

"The Grinch got a wonderful, awful idea" (Predator). The Grinch is a wonderful example of the Apathetic shadow, caring only for himself. We see him flip into its opposite, the Zealot, when he does such a perfect job of stealing the Whos' decorations that he leaves only "crumbs much too small for the other Whos' mouses."

 

Holiday Inn

Jim Hardy (played by Bing Crosby)
Jim becomes hysterical after working too hard on the farm (Overwrought) but most of the time can't express a feeling to save his life, including when he proposes to Linda (Stoic). He lies repeatedly to Linda to keep her from finding out that Ted and Danny want her to be Ted's new partner (Predator). The deception reaches its height with Jim's attempt to sabotage Linda from performing the night Hollywood scouts are in the audience (Predator).

Ted Hanover (played by Fred Astaire)
Ted tells Linda he loved her before he knew her name just because he liked dancing with her (Grandstander).

Linda Mason (played by Marjorie Reynolds)
Linda lies to Jim about knowing Ted when they meet during Ted and Lila's performance (Predator). After falling for Jim's attempt at sabotage (Prey), she turns around and sabotages Lila in the same way (Predator). Linda is at the mercy of the screenwriters, who have her behave in ways that are out of character. She most often plays the Wanton, in dancing with Ted on Valentine's Day after Jim has opened his heart to her, and in becoming engaged to Ted without loving him. She also plays Pushover a lot, choosing not to speak up even when the men are treating her like a toy.

Lila Dixon (played by Virginia Dale)
Lila falls for nearly every man she meets ("I love everybody" — Wanton) and vainly insists on being treated like a big star with orchids before every performance (Grandstander).

Danny Reed (played by Walter Abel)
Danny is the classic weaseling Hollywood agent ready to do anything to make money off his client's career even if it makes everybody miserable (Predator).

Gus (played by Irving Bacon)
Gus is willing to sabotage his friend Linda (Predator) for twenty bucks from Jim (Pushover). In his favor, twenty bucks was worth something like $300 in today's money.

 

White Christmas

Bob Wallace (played by Bing Crosby)
Bob expresses the somewhat cynical point of view that everyone works an "angle" (Apathetic).

Phil Davis (played by Danny Kaye)
Phil exaggerates the injury to his arm to guilt Bob into performing with him (Predator). When Judy suggests they pretend to be engaged, Phil is terrified of commitment (Wanton) and doesn't even want to kiss her (Stoic). He connives with Judy to throw Betty and Bob together in the lodge, with the ultimate goal of getting more time to himself (Predator).

Betty Haynes (played by Rosemary Clooney)
Betty is a self-described "silly schoolgirl," an idealist who puts Bob on a pedestal (Shrinking Violet), then won't tell him why he has disappointed her (Stoic). She's so reluctant to tell him why she's angry that she asks the manager at her new club to change the song she sings to one that has nothing to do with feelings. She never asks Bob for information to see if the story she's heard about him is true (Prey) and picks a fight with him instead (Hothead).

Judy Haynes (played by Vera Ellen)
Judy invites Bob and Phil to a nightclub under false pretenses to see Betty and herself perform (Predator). It's her idea to deceive Betty into believing she's engaged to Phil so that Betty will won't put up obstacles to getting married to Bob (Predator). She throws herself at Phil even though he's clearly reluctant to be in relationship with her (Wanton). She and Phil connive to throw Betty and Bob together in the lodge (Predator).

Major General Tom Waverly (played by Dean Jagger)
In the film's first scene, on a WWII battleground somewhere in Europe, General Waverly puts a stop to Bob's expressions of gratitude to him from the stage (Stoic) and can't express what he'd like to say to his troops either (Stoic). He takes a bullying tone toward his troops, and Bob and Phil reminisce about times during the War when the General marched them for two days straight without rest. But his real feelings for his troops emerges when he orders one of his men to take the incoming general on a wild goose chase (Predator) so that the Christmas celebration can continue. General Waverly invests every cent he has on the dream of his Vermont ski lodge, sacrificing his financial security (Zealot) but ultimately doesn't care enough about his dream to stick it out, asking instead to go back into the Army (Apathetic).

Emma (played by Mary Wickes)
Emma is a self-described busybody who listens in on people's phone conversations (Predator) and sometimes trusts what she's heard even when it's to someone's disadvantage (Prey). She manipulates General Waverly into wearing his uniform to the Christmas Eve celebration by sending his other suits to the cleaners (Predator).

 

 

 



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